STOP! Revictimization


Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is often accompanied by severe limitations in social and occupational functioning and frequently co-occurs with other mental disorders such as addiction and personality disorders (PD). Although therapy effectiveness is lower for PTSD clients with comorbid addiction or PD, symptoms of PTSD can be successfully treated with evidence-based trauma-focused treatments such as exposure therapy and EMDR. Unfortunately, clients who have experienced interpersonal violence in the past are at high risk of experiencing new traumatic events in the future, termed “revictimization.”

PTSD treatments are highly effective in treating PTSD symptoms but not in preventing revictimization. Currently, there are no evidence-based interventions available to reduce the risk of revictimization. To develop and implement effective interventions, we need to understand which PTSD patients are most at risk of becoming victims again and why.

Previous studies have suggested that individual psychological vulnerabilities (e.g., difficulties in interpersonal relationships, emotion regulation, self-blame, and shame) and treatment factors (e.g., remaining PTSD symptoms) may mediate the link between previous victimization and revictimization. There is also evidence that brain activity and connectivity in the stress and executive networks of the brain may play a role. Unfortunately, most previous studies examining revictimization cannot be translated to high-risk populations because they were conducted in non-clinical samples. Therefore, the knowledge to predict who will experience revictimization – and what protective factors are to prevent revictimization – is still lacking.

Research Objective

The project’s primary objective is 1) to determine risk factors and protective factors for revictimization in clients who have recovered from PTSD, and 2) to translate these into potential targets for a new intervention to prevent revictimization.

Approximately 450 participants from previous research on the treatment of PTSD will be invited to participate. Focus groups of approximately 30 clients with recovered PTSD with addiction and/or PD will be formed to explore the needs, desires, and ideas for an intervention to prevent revictimization.

This research is made possible by a grant from the Victim Support Fund.